Top 10 Most Beautiful Drives in the World

By on February 25, 2013
Top 10 Most Beautiful Drives in the World

Overseas Highway, The Florida Keys, USA.

In the words of great American author, Jack Kerouac, "Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road." Road trips have quenched the thirst of travel nomads for over a hundred years, and while it is thrilling to hop a plane to exotic destinations, sometimes avoiding lengthy customs line-ups, cranky travelers and jet-lag come in a distant second to tossing a few things in the backseat and hitting the road. Whether you're making it up as you go or following a carefully crafted itinerary, road trips are still an old favorite. Need a little inspiration? Here are ten of the most beautiful drives in the world to get that imagination firing!

The Oberalp Pass, Switzerland

Linking the Central Switzerland and the Graubunden Oberland, this road is a must-do on any European itinerary. Wind your way through carpeted, mountainous terrain, and marvel at quaint villages along the way and enjoy crisp mountain air. This road is only open during the late spring and summer months, and in the winter, parts of it are actually used as ski slopes and an access point for local traffic.

Seward Highway, Alaska

This highway only stretches for 127 miles but it will feel like twice that because you'll want to stop every five minutes to take photos. Stretching from the sea, over the Kenai Penninsula and eventually ending up in Seward in Resurrection Bay, an array of pristine waterfalls, awe inspiring glacial views and playful sea mammals await you.

Cornwall, England

England is renowned for its lolling hills, emerald green surroundings, quaint medieval villages and warm hospitality. The white-washed villages of the Cornish peninsula (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destination/uk/60431/Cornwall-travel-guide.html ) will arrest the heart and inspire anyone who spends a moment or two amidst it's exquisiteness to take up poetry. Along the way, visit a ninth-century Penzance cross, wander a neolithic sites in St. Michael's Mount, and visit the Trebah Garden hailed as one of the top 80 gardens in the world.

The Flower Route, Netherlands

Often hailed as one of the 500 ‘Drives of a Lifetime' by National Geographic, driving through vibrant fields of tulips is definitely something that needs to make your bucket list! Beginning in Haarlem and meandering 25 miles south to Leiden, this drive is short but sweet, and in the spring and summer months, it's daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips for as the eye can see.

North Island, New Zealand

Yet another ‘500 Drives of a Lifetime' makes our list and it should come as no surprise that New Zealand is a hailed as one of the must-see driving experiences of a lifetime. Rugged terrain, azure lakes, and rich and vibrant eclectic culture, pack your bags, hop a plane and spend a few weeks meandering through Middle Earth.

Finger Lakes, New York

When it comes to the big Apple, most people think of the bright lights of Times Square, the excitement of the West End, and shopping on 5th Avenue. Do something different. After you touch down in JFK, snag yourself a renal car and head to the center of New York State. Drink your way through some of the finest vineyards on earth, picnic alongside tranquil lakes and take in sweeping vistas.

Sidemen Valley, Bali

Anyone who's watched ‘Eat Pray Love‘ couldn't help but fall in love with the emerald green rice terraces of the Balinese countryside. Much of the filming took place in a what can easily be called paradise on earth, the Sidemen Valley. The road to Sidemen wanders in from the south of Bali and over to the coast. Volcanic peaks, and tropical flora in greens you could scarce imagine, coupled with quiet Balinese villages and warm smiles make this a must-do while you're in Bali.

Sea-to-Sky Highway, Canada

The sea-to-sky corridor stretches from the pearl of the West Coast, Vancouver, up to North America's premier ski resort, Whistler, home of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. With the sea on one side and formidable mountain terrain on the other, keep your eyes peeled for soaring eagles and roadside grazing black bears.

The Florida Keys, USA

Snag a convertible, slap on some sunscreen and make your way to ‘Margaritaville'. A unique overseas highway, slips through tiny islands, across 42 bridges, and only takes four hours to get from one end to the other and back again! Time it right, and you could be sipping an umbrella drink, watching the sun go down and enjoying the Caribbean feel of life in the Keys just hours from touching down at Miami airport.

The Great Ocean Road, Australia

Ever notice how everything in Australia is ‘Great'? Well, the Great Ocean Road has certainly earned the title. Nestled between the modest towns of Torquay and Warrnambool on Australia's southeastern coast, it was actually built by returned World War One soldiers, making it the world's largest Great War memorials. Infinite ocean views, sharp cliffs, exotic fauna and crisp ocean breezes make this a drive one you'll be talking about for years to come!


 
Jordana Manchester
Jordana Manchester
Contributing Writer at ExcelLiving.com
Jordana is an award nominated freelance travel and fashion writer, a former model, an anthropology student and photographer. After spending a year abroad working with lions in Zambia, trekking through the jungles of Sumatra and wandering medieval castles in Portugal, she settled down in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She makes use of her eclectic background by incorporating her infatuation with fashion and style, her obsession with xenophilia, and her obvious love of wayfaring, into every piece she writes.

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  • Jim3575

    You obviously have never been on the Road to Hana on Maui. I can only vouch for the Florida Keys and Finger Lakes. They're both very nice. But, the Hana Highway is better.

    • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

      Hey Jim, I have actually driven the road to Hana on Maui, several times
      😉 It's a lovely highway, but it's hard to include them all, and there
      are sooo many incredible drives outside of the United States :-) We'll
      do a post that features 'just' American roads in the future!

      • Jim3575

        Thank you for responding. What's your favorite thing in the Florida Keys? Also, have you written anything on the Road to Hana? I'd love to read it.

        • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

          Of course! I loved Islamorada, did some snorkeling there and had an amazing meal. Loved the tiki bars, and the multicultural locals. I haven't written anything on the Road to Hana as of yet. Spent many an evening in the Winter watching folks get towed out to Jaws at Pauwela Point. And my visit to Koolau Forest Reserve reminded me a bit of my time in Sumatra, so lush.

    • Tim_Parker_999

      My gf & i drove the road to Hana in a rented Jeep with the top down, I think it took about 2 hours to drive the 37 miles. When we got there we didn't want to leave. Absolutely beautiful! I bought some smoked marlin, roasted breadfruit & fresh coconut from a roadside stand. On the way back we stopped to watch surfers from a cliff on the North Shore. The swells & waves were enormous. I got a picture of surfers waiting for a wave with a humback whale right next to them.

      • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

        Smoked Marlin, one of my favorite things to eat in the whole wide world! Sounds like we need to do a post on the road to Hana 😉

  • usckitty

    Please check out the Pacific Coast Highway in California from Monterey to San Luis Obispo...or as we call it Highway 1...

    • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

      Driven that little gem at least a dozen times! Absolutely fantastic drive, and stunning views!

      • usckitty

        It's such a haven for me as well! I'm just biased because I live in California...one of the most beautiful drives ever! I literally take 6 hours to go the 135 miles from Carmel to SLO...

        • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

          You're allowed to be biased!!! California is stunning. I live in British Columbia, and I happen to think that it's one of the most hauntingly beautiful places on earth! California is sooo beautiful!

  • http://twitter.com/KenInCO Ken Johnson

    Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. It's the highest continuous paved road in the world. Amazing vistas.

    • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

      Another favourite of mine!

  • Cheryl

    The Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park is the most spectacular drive I've ever taken. The road goes to Banff through Jasper along the Athabasca river up,to the Columbia Icefields passing enormous glaciers along the continental devide.
    http://www.icefieldsparkway.ca/

    • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

      Another incredible drive, depending on the time of year of course. The wildlife viewing is breathtaking!

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.heffner3 John Heffner

    The drive from Escalante, Utah to Boulder, Utah should top any list.

    • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

      Drove that two summers ago after I went hiking through slot Canyons at Zion National park...spectacular! I adore Boulder!

  • Max McByte

    You are mistaken! I been on some of these roads and a few more. Yes, some of them are beautiful. The problem as I see it is traveling by car, most of which just passes you by, a blurr!

    IMO, the very best way to travel is the slow way, Mountain bikes, sailboats, walking, kayaking, etc!

    I see things most do not. Don't get me wrong, I like autos just fine. But after so many years having so many fine cars I can tell you that the bicycle is more fun, more excillerating than any Ferrari, Aston Martin, etc. and its is also free and healthy.

    The other day I went on a job interview to South San Francisco. From Marin County, I took a ferry and then the train (BART) to the location. After the interview, it was sunny and warm and I thought "sheeze" this is greatt - lets just bike home. A forty plus mile trek that took me from San Francisco Airport/ South San Francisco into San Francisco via San Bruno Ave. I have lived in San Francisco in a few neighborhoods and have been in the area over 35 years and saw places that I did not know existed. Urban countryside one moment, inter-city the next. I traveled along routes asking folks along the way for directions (I knew basically where I was) I just like talking to people because it is part of the fun! (the couple along the bike path who gave me too much excellent info that I then ran into later along the way who drew a map and warned me about the hood along the way, the fuel depot guy who warned me about certain neighborhoods and wrote down instructions on my pad of paper, the elder freindly happy Italian guy who pointed me in the right direction, after much thought, the other bicyclists who had mini-maps in the wallet. I got over the hills, past the "hood" then into China Basin, all the new development that I have never see before, the Oracle Americas Cup HQ, the fancy high rise apartments, the local hangouts, Giants baseball staduim, and then under the mighty Bay Bridge and into the Embarcadero and one of the primary spots that the San Francisco waterfront has to offer. This is a FANTASTIC day in one of the greateast cities in the world (possibly the best of the best)! I had coffee at Peets, moseyed over to the "EPIC" and "WaterBar". All the "Cool People" were there . Seriously, it is excellent experience on the SF waterfront on a sunny warm Friday afternoon. I then headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. This took me along the SF water front and over to Fisherman's Wharf and the tourists (where there a few fisherman, if any!) Then on to the Marina district, Chesnut Street and the cafes and look at old neighborhoods I used to live in. Then by the Marina Green and the Yacht Club and Volley Ball green (no volley ball going on), and the beach where the wind/kite surfers hang-out. Then along the Presidio path to the approach of the Golden Gate Bridge, up the path and eventually onto the deck of the Golden Gate Bridge. As I entered the bridge, the East side lane was closed to bicycles and I had to take the West side lane facing head on the indescribable view of the Pacific Ocean as it makes it way into the San Francisco Bay. From here, the San Francisco Gold Coast is to the south and the sublime Marin Headlands on the north side. As luck would have it, I arrived mid span as a very large freighter was steaming in (and almost not quite) the bow of the great ship was just about to go under the threshold of the bridge, I thought what it would be like to leap from the bridge onto the freighter - but it was still to great a leap without a para-glider. My camera was in my pocket, I had my gloves on and my hands were numb - not from temperature as it was unusually warm, but from fatigue. I wanted to take a picture as it was SUPERB but could not!!! I sighed and continued my journey into Sausalito through the mini-tunnel and down toward Bridgeway. I passed the great water-front and tourists and stopped into Café Trieste (now known as "A taste of Rome"). I talked with a few of the locals (I've been a 22 year local to Sausalito myself). After the coffee, I started (legs starting to get wobbly) onto toward the next way-point Corte Madera. Along the way, I always stop by or look at the Aston Martin dealership looking for what??? (my Imagination) "today we have a special price just for you - only $99.99 for this Aston Martin 177! Never happens, so I go on my way to the next way-point Trader Joes (maybe pick up some groceries - but too tired) and the bridge at Greenbrea. I do not need anything so I think and keep going, I am fatigued! Over to Larkspur, and the ferry lading I could have taken the ferry from San Francisco to here saving my wobbly legs! I shrug and keep moving through the shopping center and pass the Marin Brewing Company (Beer, I could stop for a quick one - but I know I would never make it all the way to my home base) so I keep moving through the converted old train tunnel - now a wonderful bicycle path saving me a few miles. Into San Rafael - sheeze, my legs are getting more fatigued, the knees - I can feel them. Did I mention that I have a 20 lb pack on my back? Almost home, I need to get to the North Point Mall and to Safeway to get a few items. So I enter the bike path along the freeway - its a really cool bike path. I get to Safeway, this is my last chance to get some food and supplies, so I get a few things, including a few beers. Now on my final leg home to Terra Linda, when I get there really fatigued, I am reminded of my very bad house-mate situation. I temporally live with a vindictive, elder, bitter, spurned crazy person who somehow hates me as I think she thinks I am her ex husband who spurrned her. I was just looking for a temporary place to live while I had a tempory contract software job, she seemed reasonable at the time - One month later I realized I am living with Dr. Jeckel/Mrs Hyde! I want to get back on my bike and return to my fantastic space and do it again, but I am tired. I hope things will be better.

    I know they will - eternal optimism!

    (On another related note which helps fuel my fire)

    I remember Sterling Hayden words in his autibiography - "The Wanderer"

    "Bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"

    "To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest.

    Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea--"cruising", it is called.

    Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

    Little has been said or written about the ways a man may blast himself free. Why? I don't know, unless the answer lies in our diseased values. A man seldom hesitates to describe his work; he gladly divulges the privacies of alleged sexual conquests. But ask him how much he has in the bank and he recoils into a shocked and stubborn silence.

    "I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go.

    They are enmeshed in the cancerous Discipline of "security". And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine---and before we know it our lives are gone.

    What does a man need---really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in---and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all---in the material sense. And we know it.

    But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

    The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

    Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"

    I am a Wanderer!

    Have a nice day...

    • http://twitter.com/UrbanXenophile JordanaManchester

      Ok. Thank you for your thoughts.